Herbal Profile: Eleuthero Root |

Herbal Profile: Eleuthero Root

Sarena-Rae Santos October 18, 2023

What is Eleuthero Root

Eleuthero root, sometimes called eleuthero, Siberian ginseng, or its scientific name Eleutherococcus senticosus, is a part of the Araliaceae family. Eleuthero is native to eastern Russia, China, Korea, and Japan. Eleuthero root comes from a shrub that grows upward of 10 feet tall and has 3 to 7 toothed leaflets on its stems. Eleuthero roots are lifted in the autumn and dried for use as herbal preparations that often help maintain good health (1). 

Health Benefits of Eleuthero Root

Unlike most herbs, eleuthero is used to maintain good health, not so much for improving health concerns, but that doesn’t mean it’s not brimming with health benefits, like: 

Antioxidant Properties

Antioxidants can help fight damage from harmful free radicals. The buildup of free radicals has been linked to chronic diseases, such as cancer and heart disease (2). One study determined eleuthero’s antioxidant properties using a free radical scavenging assay and testing (3). Another study found eleuthero root’s phenolic compounds have antioxidant properties and are a source of secondary plant metabolites with anti-hyaluronidase and anti-tyrosinase activity (4). 

Antiviral Properties

An antiviral property is when a substance, or in this case, an herb, can kill a virus or suppress the virus’ ability to replicate, multiply or reproduce (5). In vitro, eleuthero root demonstrated the ability to inhibit the replication of the human rhinovirus and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), which often causes the common cold and the flu (6). In human studies, six months of supplementing 2 grams of eleuthero root decreased the frequency, severity, and duration of herpes outbreaks in herpes simplex virus (HSV) type 2 patients (7).

May Support the Immune System

The immune system protects the body from outside invaders, including bacteria, viruses, fungi, and toxins (8). When you support your immune system, you support your body’s ability to fight sickness and reduce the risk of serious illness. Eleuthero root has been used to support immunity and as an antimicrobial and chemoprotectant (9). Animal studies have concluded that eleuthero root can improve the immune function of aged rats and delay the progressive decline of immune function (10). 

Adaptogenic Properties

If you read our blog, How Adaptogens Ease Your Stress, you know adaptogens are herbal substances that enhance the “state of non-specific resistance” and support the body’s ability to deal with stress from anxiety, fatigue, trauma, infection, and so on (11). Adaptogens work by helping the body manage stress and promote healthy emotional responses, and eleuthero root does just that. 

Eleuthero root is thought to help support adrenal gland function when the body is challenged by stress (12). One study highlighted the beneficial stress-protective effect of adaptogens and regards adaptogens, like eleuthero, as a novel pharmacological category of anti-fatigue drugs. The study even noted eleuthero’s therapeutic effects on some stress-induced and stress-related disorders and the quality of life of chronic disorder patients (13).

May Promote Heart Health

Unfortunately, heart disease is the world’s number one cause of death (14). Due to the incredibly complex determinants of heart disease and various possible contributions, it’s hard to pinpoint an exact way to prevent it. Still, you can at least take steps to lower your overall risk. That’s where eleuthero root may come in.

Studies have indicated eleuthero root’s ability to lower cholesterol levels (15). In human studies, eleuthero supplementation improved blood flow and blood pressure levels and increased energy, metabolism, and physical performance (16). A randomized, placebo-controlled trial confirmed eleuthero reduces cardiovascular stress responses in healthy subjects who were between 18 and 30 years old (17).

May Improve Blood Sugar Levels

As of 2020, 34.2 million (1 in 10) Americans have diabetes, and another 88 million (1 in 3) Americans have prediabetes (18). On the bright side, studies have evaluated eleuthero root’s compounds and discovered similar actions to some diabetic medications. In studies, eleuthero root significantly decreased blood glucose levels and demonstrated an anti-diabetic and hypoglycemic effect (19). Another study found eleuthero improved type 2 diabetes by enhancing glucose uptake, improving insulin resistance and pancreatic islet cell function, and regulating glucose metabolism (20).

May Support Brain Health 

Brain health refers to cognitive health, motor functions, emotional functions, and tactile functions. Brain functions may decrease across several areas as we age due to neurological conditions like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, or even amyloid plaques (21). Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, dementia, multiple sclerosis (MS), and other brain diseases are associated with inflammation (22,23,24). Thankfully eleuthero may help.

Studies have deemed eleuthero root a nootropic herb with variable phytochemical compositions that can improve cognitive function, especially in neuronal damage or degeneration cases (25). In animal studies, four weeks of eleuthero root positively influenced learning and memory in experimentally aged rats (25). Another study demonstrated eleuthero extract’s ability to enhance memory by penetrating and working in the brain (26).

Anticancer Properties 

Statistics say that 158.3 of every 100,000 individuals will die from cancer, but what if they didn’t have to (27)? Studies have demonstrated eleuthero’s proliferative and inhibitory activity on cancer cell lines like lung, nasopharyngeal carcinoma, and colon cancers (28). In vivo and in vitro studies demonstrated eleuthero’s ability to inhibit lung and liver malignant tumors (29).

Safety Concerns

According to the mainstream, eleuthero is likely safe for up to 3 months of usage. Eleuthero is usually well-tolerated, but side effects might include diarrhea, stomach upset, and headache. They state eleuthero is possibly safe in teenagers (ages 12-17 years) when taken by mouth for up to 6 weeks. They claim there isn’t enough reliable information to know if eleuthero is safe if you’re pregnant, breastfeeding, or taking longer than 3 months. They also claim that eleuthero might cause a pounding heart, irregular heartbeat, or high blood pressure in people with heart disorders. They caution that eleuthero may worsen hormone-sensitive conditions (30).

According to The Herbal Academy’s Herbarium, eleuthero is generally free of side effects and can be taken for long periods. They do note that eleuthero is contraindicated in the case of high blood pressure and, in rare cases, can cause overstimulation in sensitive people (31).

According to the Modern Alternative Mama and Earthley’s lead herbalist, Kate Tietje, as far as she can see, eleuthero hasn’t been studied in people under 12. She mentioned no major concerns in the studies conducted. She also says eleuthero is an adaptogen meant for long-term use and doesn’t see why younger people can’t safely use it.

I scoured many scientific databases and could not find evidence of eleuthero causing issues while pregnant or breastfeeding. I also found no evidence of increased risk with long-term use or with high blood pressure. With that said, if there is no evidence that it has caused harm, and everything claimed is speculation, I am confident it is safe to use. As always, trust your instincts. Every person feels different because every person is different; if your gut is telling you to pass on eleuthero, it’s best to do so. 

How to Use Eleuthero Root

You can find eleuthero in dried bulk, pills, powders, teas, extracts, or tinctures. Tinctures always contain the most concentrated amount of herbs. Teas and soups are also options, especially when following Ayurvedic medicine recipes. If you’re a DIY person, some great starter recipes are:

Follow the recommendations of any supplement; some of my recommendations include:

  • Earthley’s Adaptogenic Immunity combines five certified organic herbs that can support the immune system, improve the body’s ability to cope with stress, and nourish you for total body wellness! This alcohol-free, botanical liquid is highly bioavailable and easy to assimilate. These herbs are generally safe even for people who have been told not to use “immune boosters.”
  • Earthley’s Cocoa Calm combines an all-natural, antioxidant-rich cocoa powder with three key adaptogens (ashwagandha root, Rhodiola root, and eleuthero root).  The result is a cocoa powder that tastes just like chocolate but helps you feel calmer and more able to deal with common daily stresses!

If you have eleuthero root in your natural medicine cabinet, how do you use it?

This is the writings of:

Sarena-Rae Santos
Sarena-Rae Santos' journey to natural health began in 2019 when she swayed away from allopathic medicine after becoming wheelchair-bound due to the side effects of 20+ medications. Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) and dizziness due to nystagmus were the sources of her many health complications. Sarena's symptoms diminished after adopting a healthier lifestyle surrounding whole foods and herbs, leaving her a fantastic quality of life and a passion for educating people.

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Hi, I’m Kate.  I love medical freedom, sharing natural remedies, developing real food recipes, and gentle parenting. My goal is to teach you how to live your life free from Big Pharma, Big Food, and Big Government by learning about herbs, cooking, and sustainable practices.

I’m the author of Natural Remedies for Kids and the owner and lead herbalist at EarthleyI hope you’ll join me on the journey to a free and healthy life!

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